Historic Bike Ride Through Talbot County
I’ve been isolating myself with my family at my parent’s house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Our house is on Irish Creek, which is off the Choptank River. The town is “Royal Oak”, which is in between St. Michaels and Easton, two more popular towns in the area, all of which are in Talbot County. This past weekend my dad and I went on a bike ride to explore Talbot County a little more and, to my surprise, learn a little about its history.
We started biking on St. Michaels Road towards Easton at the Exxon Station, where I’d normally continue straight to go to downtown Easton, but my dad took us left down Unionville Road, which led us to a town called “Unionville.”
When you enter Unionville there is a sign from the Maryland Historical Trust explaining a brief history of the town. Unionville is a historic black town settled by ex-slaves and free blacks after the Civil War. 18 black soldiers who fought for the Union came back to the outskirts of the slave plantations where they were slaves. They began building their new lives in 1867, when a Quaker family, the Cowgills who owned nearby Lombardy Plantation, offered the veterans an opportunity to own plots of land for $1 a month. The veterans renamed the land from Cowgillstown to Unionville after the Union Army. Once we passed the sign, on our right about half a mile away, we passed the small cemetery where all 18 Civil War veterans are buried. To learn more about the history of Unionville, check out this article from the Baltimore Sun.
Continuing along our ride, after another seven or eight miles we found ourselves in Easton and rode about two miles off course to check out a one room school house or the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” which it is commonly referred to. This school house has a sign outside of it from the Maryland Historical Society. The sign states that this school house is the only one-room schoolhouse remaining in Talbot County, built in 1885 and converted into a museum in 1969. The School’s original name was Longwood’s Elementary School.
This one room school house held about 30 students from 1st to 5th grade. There is a stove in the middle of the room that was used to heat the room, and the teacher was in charge of making sure the fire in the stove never died. The younger kids and females sat at the front of the room, while the boys sat in the back. The only light that came into the room was from sunlight or candles, if necessary. The door to get inside the building was closed, but I walked around and saw two outhouses in the back – one for the boys, and one for the girls. In 1936 electricity and indoor plumbing were added, however in 1969 the members of the Talbot County Historical Society restored Longwood Elementary to its original condition when built in the 1880s to maintain a piece of history.
I really enjoyed this bike ride because not only was it a beautiful day to get outside and get some exercise, it was also fascinating to learn a little history about the area I spend so much of my time. I encourage everyone, if possible, to get outside and try learning something new about your neighborhood or area.